Two music professors will be interim leaders of Ohio State University’s celebrated marching band, with one focusing on compliance and student safety in the wake of the investigation that led to the director’s firing, the university said Monday.
The announcement, accompanied by supportive statements from the trustees’ chairman and the head of the alumni association, comes less than two weeks after the firing of director Jonathan Waters.
A two-month investigation concluded Waters knew about but failed to stop a "sexualized culture" of rituals that included students marching in their underwear and performing sexually themed stunts to get explicit nicknames — a culture that he and his lawyer say he was trying to change. He had led the band since 2012, creating popular halftime shows that drew millions of views on YouTube.
Ohio State’s director of university bands, Russel C. Mikkelson, is now overseeing the marching band, and the associate director of bands, Scott A. Jones, is responsible for student safety and compliance with Title IX sexual discrimination laws, the school said Monday. It plans a national search for the next permanent director.
The announcement shows that Ohio State has "taken a necessary step forward by doing what we must, and what is right," the chair of the trustees’ board, Jeffrey Wadsworth, said in a statement. He said he fully backs the decision to fire Waters.
A statement from the president of the university’s overall alumni association, football great Archie Griffin, echoed that support.
A different alumni group, the powerful and well-funded alumni association for the marching band, is challenging the findings of the investigation. It has launched its own review and efforts to get Waters reinstated.
The university says it had to move swiftly on a complaint against Waters under federal sexual discrimination laws.
New Ohio State President Michael Drake has enlisted former state Attorney General Betty Montgomery to lead a task force that will advise Drake’s administration on how the band’s culture evolved to its current state and make recommendations for its future.